Homeopathy is based on the principle that ‘like cures like’ – in other words, it’s an alternative medicinal practice that uses the smallest possible amount of an active ingredient in order to help treat or cure a disease, even if this same ingredient can contributeto an illness in the first place. This idea dates back to Hippocrates (460-377BC), who also thought that symptoms specific to an individual should be taken into account before making a diagnosis. This is also an important principle of homeopathy, where an individual’s unique symptoms are important in distinguishing the correct medicine.
The idea of ‘like curing like’ was not to re-emerge in any great way until a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) came to devise the system of medicine that we know as homeopathy. He deduced that an illness could be treated with a very small amount of a substance that, in larger quantities, could cause that illness. To avoid harmful effects from normal doses of the substances, he diluted each medicine until he reached the greatest dilution that would still produce a response. These experiments were called proving’s and led him to observe and describe the basic principles of homeopathic medicine. Thus, a homeopath looks for a substance, that produces those same symptoms a patient experiences, in a healthy person.
In the late 1800s, students of Hahnemann founded the first homeopathic medical school in the United States. It gained recognition because of its success in treating the many disease epidemics rampant at the time — including scarlet fever, typhoid, cholera and yellow fever. Its popularity was adversely affected by the American Medical Association, as this was also around the time when modern drug companies began releasing drugs that were easy to administer to patients. Although a decline was noticed in the States, its popularity grew in other nations, including countries in Europe and Asia. Today, nearly all French pharmacies sell homeopathic remedies and medicines; and homeopathy has a particularly strong following in Russia, India, Switzerland, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, and South America.
How are the remedies made?
A homeopathic medicine can be made from any substance. There are several thousand different homeopathic remedies, made from an enormous range of sources. From plant/vegetables, fungi, and minerals to animal based products and micro-organisms. Some of these remedy sources may surprise you. The source of the remedy is not as significant as the pattern of illness it represents. The principle of all homeopathic remedies is the same, whatever they are made from. Each remedy represents a particular pattern of illness. If that pattern can be matched to your own pattern of illness, it can stimulate healing.
In the first stages of preparing a homeopathic remedy, before it becomes a pill, some substances are initially diluted with vegetable alcohol (ethanol). This includes most plant remedies and easily soluble substances. The soluble substances are dissolved in the alcohol to form a “mother tincture”. One part of this tincture is added to 99 parts of alcohol and succussed (shaken). This yields a 1C potency (one part per hundred). This process of serial dilution and succussion is repeated, each step yielding a more dilute but more potent remedy. Repeating the process 10 times yields a 10C potency, one hundred times yields a 100C potency and so on.
Preparation of less soluble substances, such as minerals, begins with trituration. This means grinding in a pestle and mortar with lactose (milk sugar). This reduces particle size, so that after a while they become soluble, or colloidal, and the preparation then continues with dilution in alcohol.
Remedies are commonly available in the following forms:
Flat tablets - based on sucrose and lactose (milk sugar); dissolve rather slowly. Suitable for infants if dissolved in water, but hard to dissolve.
Round pillules - based on sucrose (plant sugar); dissolve quicker, and suitable for infants if dissolved in water.
Soft tablets - (trituration tablets) based on lactose. Dissolve very quickly, suitable for infants.
Liquid remedies - such as tinctures and LM potencies are based on alcohol, as a preservative. Suitable for infants when diluted. Alcohol can be removed by putting the remedy in a little hot water.
Granules - tiny round grains based on sucrose. Suitable for infants.
Powders - usually lactose. Suitable for infants.
Creams - (easily absorbed) and ointments (more oily) may contain lanolin or beeswax, and may contain chemical additives. Some so-called homeopathic creams are actually herbal.
Another way some homeopaths make remedies is by using digital remedy makers. These devices simulate a remedy using their unique energy pattern and copy it, into blank sugar pills or water/alcohol solutions. Being digital they claim to make remedies which are very precise and provide instant copies which could be adjusted to the correct potency to suit their patient’s needs.
The idea of homeopathy is that this practice helps stimulate the immune system and the body’s natural ability to heal; the School of Homeopathy states, “that which a substance is capable of causing, it is also capable of curing.”
One of the most important principles of homeopathic medicine is that treatments must be “individualized” and tailored to each person’s specific symptoms, history, body and needs. Even if two people are battling the same illness, they can receive completely different recommendations from their homeopathic doctors based on their unique situation and how their body would be expected to respond.
As opposed to conventional medicine, homeopathy takes into consideration a patient’s emotional stability and personality. It’s common for a homeopathic doctor to talk in depth with a patient about their stress levels, relationships, personal characteristics, family and so on. Patients respond differently to a range of doses of homeopathic medicines; some needing much higher doses than others based on their current situation. Homeopathic remedies — whether adaptogen herbs, minerals, medicinal mushrooms or animal products — are diluted to a certain potency depending on the patient’s needs, and the goal is to always use the minimum dose possible that will still offer benefits.
Homeopathy has been most commonly used in patients suffering from:
As depression displays many emotional symptoms, it is important to choose the correct homeopathic remedy which correlates to them. Thus, there are several homeopathic remedies for depression that can complement a natural treatment.
- Arsenicum album is the best remedy for excessive worriers.
- Causticum is the necessary homeopathic remedy when the person is depressed after a loss or when grieving.
- Ignatia amara is often best for sensitive people that tend to suppress disappointment or grief.
- Lachesis muta is the appropriate remedy when depression is caused by suspicion, jealously, or repressed feelings.
- Sepia is the best remedy when a person is overwhelmed from loved ones and family members.
- Staphysagria is the best homeopathic remedy for a person who is sensitive, quiet, and emotional.
Other top remedies for depression include aurum metallicum, calcarea carbonica (calcium carbonicum), kali phosphoricum, cimicifuga, natrum carbonicum, natrum muraticum, pulsatilla nigricans, phosphoric acid, and causticum.
An allergy is a sudden hypersensitive reaction that presents itself with a number of symptoms following contact with an allergen. The main allergies are nasal allergy, allergic cough, food allergies, dust allergy and skin rash. Again, homeopathic remedies that are best suited are chosen on the basis of the symptoms and characteristics narrated by each patient.
- Apis Mellifica is used to treat the hives or urticarial rash due to allergic reactions. This is the best remedy for all cases of allergic hives that result in violent itching with burning and stinging sensations.
- Arsenic Album is great for treating nasal allergy when there is a fluent and burning discharge from nose with a lot of sneezing. This may be accompanied by watery eyes and a burning sensation.
- Natrum Mur is very beneficial for the treatment of both nasal and skin allergies. The important pointers for using Natrum Mur in nasal allergy are a running nose with sneezing and difficulty in breathing. In skin allergies, Natrum Mur is the ideal for excessive itching that mainly gets worse in a warm room and better in open air. A craving for salt is usually noted in all the patients requiring Natrum Mur.
- Sulphur is the best remedy for skin allergies with excessive itching and a burning sensation. The skin usually remains dry and the patient gets relief from scratching it.
Many other remedies are also suggested for different allergy types which have been mentioned in the ‘Recipes for Health’ section of this article.
Migraine is a disorder characterised by a headache, specifically affecting one side of the head. Migraine headaches are mostly throbbing or pulsating in nature, often accompanied with symptoms of nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise.
- Belladonna is good for a migraine with the following symptoms: intense throbbing, pulsating headache, sensitivity to the light, sensitivity to noise. Only hard pressure over the head relief is felt.
- Glonoinum is helpful in treating a migraine with the following symptoms: excessive congestion in the head, the head feels large (as if it would burst), also, heat around the head is unbearable. Uncovering the head relieves the headache. The migraine also gets better with sleep, and walking worsens the migraine headache. It is also good for migraine headaches triggered by sun exposure.
- Iris Versicolor is useful for a migraine when coupled with intense nausea, vomiting or acidity. Symptoms include vomiting of an acidic, sour and bitter nature and diarrhoea. This medicine is also useful where migraines begins with a blur before the eyes.
- Nux Vomica is very effective for a migraine with gastric troubles. Migraine due to indigestion, flatulence, constipation and piles shows great recovery with use of this remedy.
- Epiphegus is valuable for treating a migraine where exhaustion – mental or physical – sets off the migraine episode.
Other remedies include Spigelia, Sanguinaria Canadensis, Natrum Carbonicum, Natrum Muriaticum, Sepia, Kali Phos, and Cyclamen.
Other conditions for which homeopathy is commonly used are asthma, anxiety disorders, arthritis, dermatitis (and other skin disorders), fatigue, tension headaches, thyroid or autoimmune disorders and digestive problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
To Sum up…
Despite over 200 years of clinical efficacy, the nature of how these remedies work is still a mystery. We do not yet possess the technology or the methodology necessary to unlock homeopathy’s secrets. Homeopathic remedies are not deemed as dangerous, even when made from substances which are dangerous in their original form, as long as they are sufficiently highly potentised (diluted correctly). All remedies are safe when taken according to instructions from a qualified homeopath. Dangerous substances should not be taken in very low potencies. So please be sure to consult with a homeopath about any of the remedies mentioned in this article before taking them.
Some wonder about the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies; that taking the remedies in such a diluted amount has no effect at all. However, these remedies have been used for centuries, and decades of anecdotal evidence shows that many people’s symptoms do, in fact, improve after receiving homeopathic medicines. Although more long term studies are needed, many studies have been demonstrating that homeopathy is more effective than placebo.
Recipes for Health
- Asthma: Arsenic Album, Antimonium Tart, Spongia Tosta, Ipecac, Drosera Rotundifolia.
- Anxiety: Aconite, Argentum Nitricum, Gelsemium.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Rhus Tox, Actaea Spicata, Bryonia, Causticum, Caulophyllum, Kalmia.
- IBS: Sulphur, Pulsatilla, Nux Vomica, Phosphorus, Lycopodium clavatum, Silicea, Argentum Nitricum.
- Nasal allergies: Allium Cepa, Arsenic Album, Arundo Mauri, Kali Bichromicum, Gelsemium.
- Allergic cough: Arsenic Album, Ipecac, Bryonia Alba, Sambucus.
- Allergic skin rashes: Sulphur, Apis Mellifica, Urtica Urens.
- Egg allergy: Carbo Veg, Nux Vomica, Sulphur.
- Shell fish allergy: Urtica Urens.
- Wheat allergy: Lycopodium, Colocynth, Natrum Mur.
- Milk allergy: Aethusa Cynapium, Natrum Carb, Pulsatilla.
- Allergic conjunctivitis: Euphrasia.
- Dust allergy: Lycopersicum, Bromium and Arsenic Album.